We visit the Nottinghamshire pub which lost its Michelin crown during the lockdown – as it would not be doing take out
As far as old-school charm goes, the timber-beamed Martin’s Arms, a postcard country pub, ticks all the boxes.
Behind the ivy-covered facade of the old Elizabethan farmhouse hides a timeless allure.
Unlike many ads, it didn’t succumb to the allure of a contemporary makeover with trendy Farrow & Ball hues of teal and gray and oversized lampshades.
Inside, it could be 1980s with red upholstery and carpeting, dark wood tables and chairs, scattered cushions, brassware on the fireplace, and artwork from hunters in the woods. red jacket straddling the walls.
Some might call it dated, others traditionally charming.
But one element that isn’t so poised is the food, which has won the Nottinghamshire Dining Pub of the Year crown, not just for 2021, but every year since 2012.
Located in the Nottinghamshire village of Colston Bassett – it is about a 25 minute drive from central Nottingham via the A52 and A606 before turning onto country lanes.
At the end of the trip, at School Lane, there is no ping-tastic lasagna or chicken tikka masala pub food served to diners here.
The pub has always prided itself on a fine menu which has been graced by some of the biggest names in food guides and pubs – Egon Ronay, Sawday’s, The Good Pub Guide and until recently, a recommendation from the prestigious food bible. Michelin.
But the annual Michelin seal of approval – awarded following a visit by an anonymous guest – has been lost in the past 12 months.
Lynne Strafford Bryan, who ran the Martin’s Arms with her partner Jack Inguanta for 31 years, declared: “We have been Michelin since 1998. We have not made take-out [when closed during lockdown], it wasn’t worth it. I know many did, but we chose not to and only reopened in May.
“They normally come to see us. I didn’t shake any cages – I just left them and we continued to work.
“We’re not going to chase it – we just stick with what we do.
“We’re a good old-fashioned English pub. We had South Africans over the weekend and they said, isn’t that lovely?” “
Chef Lewis Turner said that by not staying open for take out during the pandemic when hospitality was forced to close made the ad “irrelevant” to Michelin.
“I was obviously drained, we’ve had it for so long. I’m fighting to get it back, 100%.”
If Michelin inspectors need validation, all they have to do is listen to diners finishing their meal. You can’t help but hear because there is no music in the background.
Delicious, beautiful and charming were some of the applause we heard during our visit.
As with all hospitality, the shortage of kitchen staff hit the pub, and on the day we visited there were only two chefs who make the consistent quality just miraculous.
For a more formal dinner, the à la carte menu served in the restaurant features wild sea bass dishes, with scallops, mashed peas and black pudding from the pub; braised mutton with curry and okra, or Derbyshire rib steak, chanterelles and fresh truffle.
Bar food comes from an alternate menu. There is a crossover of some of the entrees such as the rabbit roulade with cider apples, leek and potato rosti and a jackfruit hoi sin bun, alongside the classics of the shrimp cocktail and the soup of the day.
A few months ago we would be sitting in the pub’s expansive beer garden, but on a blustery October day the weather is fine inside and it won’t be long before the lovely autumn display of fresh flowers. in front of the Jacobean fireplace be replaced by a roaring fire.
I skipped the starters and went straight for a large bowl of steamed mussels in a leek and white wine cream sauce. A squeeze of lemon slices through the deliciously rich gravy bath molds which are plump and plentiful. Every shell is open so there is no disappointment there.
It’s a bold statement, but I would go so far that the £ 19 dish beats the mussels I’ve eaten in many French and Belgian restaurants where you would expect them to be the masters of mussels and fries.
Hot and fresh crispy buns to mop up the generous amount of sauce and a bowl of well-seasoned fries accompany it.
With three mini rolls, I had to sacrifice some of the bread to save room for the pudding.
No less than five different home-made flavors accompanied the desserts. It was a mix involving baked cornflake cheesecake and chocolate nemesis cake.
But the £ 9 apple pie made with local honey wins thanks to the intriguing Colston Bassett Stilton ice cream, made from cheese from the village creamery two minutes down the road.
It’s very Heston Blumenthal-esque but it works really well.
The intense blue cheese becomes smoother in the form of ice cream and dampens the sweetness of the apple and honey.
It’s a good choice for those who don’t like their desserts that are too sweet.
“I always find creative ways to use Stilton because the creamery is right around the corner and I always try to put a Stilton product on the menu like soufflés or mousse,” said Lewis, who was a chef. . for about four years.
Among the diners who gave rave reviews to Martin’s Arms, there was one who said: “Just a wonderful pub. The real quality of the beer and the food was exceptional. The staff were attentive and friendly. A great place to stay. to relax. Fantastic highly recommended. “
Another satisfied customer commented: “We visited here with friends who came about ten years ago. Apparently the pub hasn’t changed much. The interior is traditional and very tasteful. The food was excellent and obviously cooked here.
“There is also a good selection of real beers. The staff were lovely, pleasant and helpful.
There were reviews but Lynne said, “We were very, very stretched out especially when we were doing 100 in the garden and they couldn’t come to the bar. It was awful.”